Up Your Prana | Brighton Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Up Your Prana

Brighton Fringe review by Steve Bennett

This new play set in a yoga studio is described as a ‘hard-hitting comedy’, but it’s humour is slight and every dramatic moment fails to land – though not for want of trying.

In fact, writer Julia Howe – an advertising copywriter presenting her first play – tries way too hard, giving all her characters big secrets that are thrown around like candy at a pantomime. The upshot is that in place of character development it’s just a sequence of big dramatic reveals, superficially explored and randomly disclosed. If nothing’s happened for a while, she dumps another massive clump of plot onto proceedings, rather than exploring the last one. 

The storyline revolves around new girl Amelia starting as a receptionist. She’s initially so naive that she cannot use the computer, but the script is so ropey that by day two she’s doing forensic accounting to figure out where money missing from the accounts went.

None of the ‘secrets’ are given much tension. In one scene Amelia reveals that financial black hole, then the very next has the yoga regulars commenting how the absent manager could possibly afford new designer clothes each week on her salary. Subtle, hey?

Other thinly drawn characters include Chelsea Primrose, a one-dimensional hooray Henrietta her gap yah; Kim Wright a full-of-herself instructor who has one expression, snarl; and Sophia von Trusselburgh, a monied social climber. But actor Anna Tymoshenko plays her with such a cod German accent she sounds like Klaus the goldfish in American Dad – and once you hear that connection, you can’t unhear it.

Hanna Louise Howell is one of the few high spots, bringing charm and credibility to the role of Amelia, and Kate Dyson makes something out of very little as the more elderly client, Eunice.

But ultimately there’s no saving a script that just throws so much into the mix that none of it is satisfying.

Review date: 14 May 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton The Warren

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